By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter
MALAYSIA-BASED RT Telecom Sdn Bhd — a tower provider that has previously been tapped by Globe Telecom, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. — signed on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government to operate as an independent common tower provider in the Philippines.
RT Telecom Chief Operating Officer Subhash Devan said the company is aiming to rollout 10,000 to 15,000 towers in the next five years, with an investment range of around $800 million to $1 billion.
“[W]e’ve forecasted to rollout about 10,000 to 15,000 towers in the next five years. I hope with the quicker approvals, we can achieve that number in a relatively short time,” he said after the signing program in Quezon City.
RT Telecom is a unit of infrastructure firm Rohas Tecnic Berhad. It has been present in the Philippines since 2007, where it provided a total of more than 1,000 towers for Globe, Smart, Ericsson Telecommunications, Inc. and Digital Mobile Philippines, Inc.
“We’ve been here conducting business in terms of the rollout of towers for the last 10 or so years. What we feel now, the transition to implementing more towers and setting up the common tower policy by the government, is a very good transition,” Mr. Devan said.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said at least 50,000 towers are needed to improve the quality of telco services in the Philippines. It has so far signed six MoUs since late 2018 that will provide assistance to the tower providers in securing permits for the construction of telco infrastructure.
Aside from RT Telecom, the others are ISOC Infrastructures, Inc.; ISON ECP Tower Pte. Ltd.; IHS Holding Ltd. (IHS Towers); edotco Group Sdn Bhd; and China Energy Equipment Co. Ltd.
“[O]nce they get a business with any telco,… we will come up with a memorandum of agreement for each particular contract that they can (secure),” DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. said during the signing ceremony.
Globe and Smart have so far expressed support for the common tower initiative of the government. RT Telecom said it is already in talks with the two telcos in the country.
Smart is the wireless arm of PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.